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  1. The money spent on Purke might just as well have been burned in a fire. His mechanics are inefficient, his velocity is going backwards, he might not have the stamina to start, and he’s a TJ-surgery or three waiting to happen. All that for a 40-man spot and four million dollars.

    Other than once being considered in elite prospect, there’s presently very little redeeming about picking him. He was passed on by every other team smartly and for good reason.

    Getting Rendon sixth overall, though, was tremendous. His injury concerns are there, too, but they’re not as serious as Purke’s. He’ll be a great third baseman for a long time.

    Comment by Kirsh — August 18, 2011 @ 8:25 am

  2. Purke also let the Nats do a more invasive arthrogram on his shoulder, which is a process where dye is injected into the arm to provide contrast and show imperfections. Although he could just be an injury-prone pitcher, the Nats appear to have taken every step possible to hedge their gamble with him.

    Comment by PMac — August 18, 2011 @ 8:35 am

  3. i agree on Purke, where the hype from a year back seems to be Mr. Hulet’s most convincing argument. I’d be very surprised if Purke made any impact as an SP in the big leagues.

    Rendon’s case is also far more complex than it appears here. It’s extremely unclear what the status of injuries is that caused teams to be scared, and there really is no clear indication of how far he might have fallen if the Nats didnt take him. Add in some indication that he might be injury prone, and it could be worse than we think.

    Comment by john sparrow — August 18, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  4. Getting Strasburg then Harper off the back of having 2/3 wins fewer than the next-worst does rather make the case for a draft lottery. This year’s draft could well go down as a triumph though.

    Comment by Aaron — August 18, 2011 @ 9:17 am

  5. As PMac said, Purke let the Nationals do an arthrogram MRI on his shoulder and the Nationals came away satisfied that he is fully healthy. Purke claimed in the Washington Times a couple days ago that his velocity is back to normal after getting some rest over the summer, and that he thinks his arm strength is now back to the level where he could pitch 3 innings a game at 100%. He says he was pitching “at 85%” during the season at TCU – which you certainly hope is true given how mediocre his fastball offering was.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — August 18, 2011 @ 9:23 am

  6. Purke’s fall to the 3rd round wasn’t only a product of his injury concerns, but also his signability concerns. Purke had only just finished his sophomore year. Most college pitchers are drafted after their junior years, giving them substantially less leverage by returning for their senior year. For Purke, this wasn’t the case. He could have easily walked away this year, and been at no less of a disadvantage in the 2012 draft. Purke had all the leverage. His fall to the 3rd round isn’t completely explained just due to his injury concerns.

    Comment by Will — August 18, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  7. The Times article ( ) also mentions that Purke held several throwing sessions for the Nats at “100%”. Apparently the professionals saw enough to be comfortable giving him an MLB contract and all the money.

    I mean it’s a crap shoot with any prospect, especially pitchers, and injuries, but all indications are that Purke and Rendon are perfectly healthy as of now.

    Insane that with Rendon and Purke the Nats got the most talented player in the last three drafts and (if Purke stayed in) maybe next years as well.

    Comment by PMac — August 18, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  8. So, would you rather have a half year of Jason Marquis or a potential #1 starter in Purke?

    Comment by Beastmode — August 18, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  9. In regards to the three teams listed, I think the jays have had the best drafts in terms of what was available to them. While washington’s drafting has been pretty good in recent years, I can’t help but think that most teams would have done ok in their draft if they had such high picks every year. I wouldnt really count their strasburg or harper pick as a brilliant move or anything. They were the clear number 1 picks (ackley might be in the majors already but i dont think many would pick him over harper at the time of the draft) and any GM or person on the street would have made the same picks. Similarly, the pirates have had high picks year after year as well so it’s not surprising that they have a good farm system now. Furthermore, they have a history of trading major league players for prospects which adds to their farm system.

    The point is that those two teams have been perpetually bad which results in high draft picks. Now obviously high picks does not always translate into good drafts but it does increase your chances; especially when you’re drafting strasburg and harper. The jays on the other hand have not been drafting as high. While they haven’t made the post season in 18 years, they have nonetheless finished with a winning record for a majority of those years. So they have not been drafting early which is why I find what they’ve been doing to be more impressive.

    Similarly, the rays had been bad for over 8 years before they actually did something. They had been stockpiling prospects from high draft picks for so long that they were bound to be good sooner or later. The team budget doesnt really matter when your prospects arent making much money. It looks as though the nationals and pirates are heading down that road as are the jays. The difference being that the nationals and jays can have big budgets when necessary.

    Comment by Danktrees — August 18, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  10. At the end of the day, $4 million + salary for Matt Purke over the minor leagues and first three Major League seasons really isn’t at all the kind of move that will cripple a franchise.

    Comment by michaelfranko — August 18, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  11. Yeah, I agree here. Is it really surprising that teams that get to draft at the very top of the round seem to come away with the guys who are initially ranked as the best prospects?

    Comment by RC — August 18, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  12. Just to nitpick, in the last 18 seasons (counting this one), the Blue Jays have finished below 500 9 times, and above it 8 times. They’re 2 games above this year, and they started the season well, so theres probably a better than 50/50 chance they finish below 500 again.

    That being said, that still a whole lot better than the nationals and pirates.

    Comment by RC — August 18, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  13. While it’s true the Nationals picked first overall a couple times, that really doesn’t mean much. Top picks bust all the time.

    Even if you want to discount them for their top pick, it is still a lame argument.

    You want to ‘knock’ their success because they picked highly, and in turn praise the Blue Jays for picking later.

    Well, the Blue Jays have gotten EXTRA picks because of free agents leaving. The Jays had 7 picks in the first 78 selections this year. When talking about the best draft, it’s not just about how high you pick, but how many high picks you got. Its not like the Jays had one pick in each round and simply maximized those picks. They had an advantage most teams did not have, and that helped their haul.

    The Nationals had the most impressive haul because they landed two elite, elite talents and two very good talents. While the Jays did have a great draft as well, adding a number of talented guys, they didn’t bring in the talent the Nationals did.

    Comment by RD — August 18, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  14. “While it’s true the Nationals picked first overall a couple times, that really doesn’t mean much. Top picks bust all the time.”

    There’s a direct, strong, correlation between career WAR and position picked in the first round. So yeah, top picks do bust, but they bust significantly less often than any other pick. If you’re looking for a superstar, the top pick is the best place to get one.

    And no, I didn’t say anything about the jays. Thanks for putting words in my mouth.

    Comment by RC — August 18, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  15. Purke will be fine. He might get shifted to the bullpen, but his stuff will be there. Out of Cole, Meyer, Purke, chances are very good at one will pan out into a quality starter next to Zimmy and Strassy.

    Comment by Victor — August 18, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  16. It’s ridiculous to say that the money was completely wasted on Purke. He is certainly more likely to never develop into a major leaguer than any other draftee, but just a year ago he showed tremendous ability. If he does turn out to be healthy and comes back to his previous form, he’ll be worth tens of millions more than they spend on him.

    Comment by Ben Hall — August 18, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

  17. I was surprised by the suggestion that Ryan Zimmerman is more valuable as a trade chip. He’s a truly great player–those are very hard to find. What’s more, he’s only 26 now, so he should have lost little, if anything in three or four years when Rendon, Strasburg, and Harper will likely be contributing in the majors. I suppose if they traded him this winter or next year, when he’s a great player in his prime with more than a year on his contract, it might make sense, but then the big pieces of that deal wouldn’t be able to contribute for a couple of years, at least, from then.

    It just seems like when you get a great player in your organization, you only let him go when he’s getting worse or you can’t afford to keep him.

    Comment by Ben Hall — August 18, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  18. Yeah, that’s a crucial catch. When you’re that strong a draft eligible sophomore who suffers setbacks, you have much more of an opportunity to leverage a stronger position in next year’s draft. That’s the full story. If he were a Junior, sticking around for a senior season would have been less likely, warranting a 1st round selection. It’s still a very reasonable risk, and there’s still a lot of work that can be done to modify his make up.

    Purke has that goofy twisting fall off to the glove side that reminds me of Andrew Miller, but his is more violent and upright… You see arm actions like his more often in the bullpen, but I’m sure they’ll be working quite a bit to correct it. It’ll be interesting to see the developments… He’s a great pitcher, so why not take the chance.

    Comment by baty — August 18, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  19. @RD

    It’s very true, but you can still say that the timing of those 2 top picks is unprecedented. To have the opportunity to select what most people would argue as the top amateur hitting and pitching prospect ever in back to back years is pretty amazing. Rendon sliding to 6 in’11 proves just how deep this draft was, very fortunate for the Nats if you still believe he was the top prospect in the draft.

    That being said, I agree that you absolutely can’t knock the Nats because of the nature of how the amateur draft works. They’ve still proved their legitimacy by managing to sign elite talent beyond those three players in the 2-4 rounds.

    Comment by baty — August 18, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  20. RC, you agreed with the poster above that mentioned the Jays. Then you post another message, referring to the Jays.

    But you never mentioned the Jays lol.

    Comment by RD — August 18, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  21. In this day and age, $4mil is equal to four months of Jeff Francoeur.

    I’d take that risk and more.

    Comment by Will — August 18, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  22. Hulet already addressed a lot of what you’re saying. Yes, the Nats have had the top pick the previous two seasons, and Strasburg and Harper were the obvious choices. But what point of the article was (and the majority is dedicated to) is how the Nationals have had very strong drafts AFTER their first choice. Cole, Solis, Ray, Storen, Meyer, Goodwin and Purke, all highly regarded prospects, were chosen when there wasn’t an obvious consensus pick. They’ve gotten top 15 talent way later than the top 15 picks. Every other team passed on these players, including the Jays (seven times they passed on Purke) or someone like Josh Bell. After the first round, draft position matters little.

    Comment by Will — August 18, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  23. I’m a bit confused by this take. There is no other way for small and mid market teams to cheaply acquire aces. You can either spend 100-175 million in free agency, trade the farm like the indians did, or you can draft guys who have ace potential and pay them 2.5-10 mill and hope you develop them.

    He wasn’t once considered a premiere draft prospect, he was a premiere draft prospect just 8 months ago, slated to be the #1 pitcher taken in the draft. Then he got hurt, and his velocity issues were not and could not be satisfyingly explained down the stretch. So what. We used a third rounder, which would be replaced if we failed to sign him, and placed a 4 million dollar bet, basically Wang money, or 1/31st what the Giants paid to fail with Zito, and 1/65th or so what the Rangers paid AFraud for nothing, on him possibly reaching his potential.

    I’d take that bet everyday of the week, and twice on sunday as the saying goes. Purke has the chance to be something special, you can either place your 10 mill, 4 mill, and 2 mill bets on guys like Strass, Purke, and AJ Cole, or you can spend 10x that much on a free agent and have just about the same odds of them actually being worth 1/2 of what you paid them, at a fraction the cost.

    He was not passed on by every team because they were smart, he was passed on by all the teams because they were scared of his injury history and considered him unsignable, and for good reason, if he said no to big money two years ago, why would he say yes to less when he was at his weakest bargaining position possible? Teams rightly assumed he’d be damn near impossible to sign, and with the long time table of players making it to the majors, teams can’t afford to waste picks now, for a tomorrow that they may never be able to see after being fired.

    I love that the Nats have spent 2 and a half drafts (i dont really consider the ’09 draft great after the first two picks, however, the first two picks were great, so, never quite sure how to look at it) investing heavily in the future, and betting on development, instead of playing scared and just dreafting easy signs and mediocre upside guys like the dodgers just did. As Oscar Wilde once said, “we’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”. Indeed. I’m glad the Nats are taking that approach.

    Comment by Stephen — August 18, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  24. Ryan’s new throwing scares the heck out of me. He used to be wild but strong armed. He now is more accurate but throws weakly. It pains me to watch him, I hope that it doesn’t pain him as well.

    Comment by steve — August 18, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  25. Yeah I agree, I can’t imagine a scenario where the Nats trade the face of the franchise just to get slightly younger.

    Comment by Ewing — August 18, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

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